Energy networks

Editor's picks

Concerns have been raised over the deliberate wasting of energy to provide flexibility after load banks – devices for creating dummy loads to test power supplies such as backup generators – were accepted into an ad hoc service to increase demand on the power grid. The load banks were entered into the Optional Downward Flexibility Management service introduced by National Grid Electricity System Operator as an emergency measure to deal with low demand on the power grid over the summer of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
News
Ofgem has paused its plans to expose smaller distributed generators to forward-looking transmission network charges after receiving opposition from a “large majority” of the respondents to its consultation on the proposals. However, the regulator said it continues to hold the view that “smaller generators should pay charges equivalent to larger generators where they have an equivalent impact on the network.”
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One of the backers of a controversial plan for a new interconnector between France and the UK has threatened legal action within weeks against Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to block the project. Alexander Temerko, an ex-head of Russian oil company Yukos and director of Aquind since 2016, also threatened legal action against trade minister Penny Mordaunt, who has been one of the leaders of the campaign against the cable that would come ashore in Portsmouth in her capacity as a local MP.
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Featured

To achieve their ambitious decarbonisation targets, local authorities must get to grips with a complex and evolving energy system. But, as UK100 chief executive Polly Billington argues, the energy sector must also do its part in seeking to understand the needs and the capabilities of local government. She talks to Lucinda Dann about how the sector is doing so far and why local area energy planning must happen with councils, rather than to them.
Interviews
Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said networks’ response to storm must improve, describing power cuts of longer than three days as “unacceptable.” Appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to answer questions about November’s Storm Arwen, which left some households without power for more than a week, the minister also rejected a suggestion that networks’ resilience to such events should have been stress tested by Ofgem.
News
The Energy Networks Associations has set out its plans for its Open Networks project in 2022, which will continue to focus on heavily standardising and coordinating flexibility services. The ENA said the industry initiative, which was launched in 2017 to accelerate the transition to a smart, flexible energy system, has enabled the UK to establish “world leading” local flexibility markets, with contracts for more than 3GW of flexibility being made available for tender in Great Britain last year.
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Latest in Energy networks

The inaugural UK Utilities Risk Report, from Utility Week and Marsh, highlights the key issues keeping sector leaders awake at night. From cybersecurity to policy and regulatory blockers, extreme weather and price volatility, this report presents a snapshot of the key concerns for utilities.
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Cadent workers will stage a 48 hour walk-out at the end of May in a dispute over pay, the GMB Union has confirmed. Gary Carter, GMB national officer, said Cadent is “out of touch” with its workers and with the cost-of-living crisis.  
News
National Grid has seen its profits surge to almost £4 billion following its acquisition of Western Power Distribution, the commissioning of two new interconnectors to France and Norway, and accelerated investment in the electricity transmission network. Utility Week spoke to chief financial officer Andy Agg about its financial results for the year to the end of March.
News
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has launched a new online tool to assist households and businesses seeking to connect low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps or electric vehicle chargers. The distribution network operator said its LCT Connections tool streamlines the process, assessing applications through an automated process and providing details for any further steps required.
News
In her latest column for Utility Week, Maxine Frerk challenges the rationale for introducing competition in onshore networks. In a world where net zero and energy security are the top priorities, is it still the right direction?
Opinion
Locational electricity pricing could save £30 billion – or £1,000 per household – by 2035, according to a new study from Energy Systems Catapult and Octopus Energy. The report said the current market arrangements were designed for an energy system dominated by large, centralised generators and “no longer makes sense”, resulting in a “growing tension between the wholesale market and physical reality”.
News
Consumers' choices must be limited to a degree if the UK is to achieve its net zero ambitions, a senior industry figure has argued. Speaking during a panel session on the decarbonisation at Utility Week Live on Tuesday (17 May), Vattenfall head of partnerships Noah Nkonge sought to qualify suggestions that consumers should have free choice over the type of heating they use, warning: “If everybody gets to choose every little thing then things like heat networks are really difficult to deliver.”
News
In our weekly roundup of national news coverage from the weekend is news that the men behind behind energy suppliers that failed have launched a new energy company called Putney Energy; the impacts of the energy crisis continue to bite; government action over river water quality is criticised; and an interview with Octopus boss Greg Jackson asks if heat pumps are worth it;
News
The Department for Transport has announced plans to hold a £200 million programme of competitions to demonstrate and compare zero-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and gather evidence on the future requirements for refuelling and recharging infrastructure. The three-year programme will allow manufacturers, energy providers and fleet and infrastructure operators to demonstrate their technologies on UK roads and will start later this year with initial competitions for battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell HGVs.
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Octopus Energy Group has given financial backing to a project to import solar and wind power from Morocco via the world’s longest subsea interconnectors. Developer Xlinks is planning to build 7GW of solar farms, 3.5GW of wind farm and 5GW/20GWh of battery storage in a patch of desert in the south of Morocco, and import the power generated back to the UK through two 1.8GW interconnectors.
News
The gas crisis that began in autumn last year and deepened with Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has “fundamentally changed” the economics of energy, according to Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley. Speaking at a conference on Wednesday (11 May), Brearley said the massive increase in gas prices since then has brought an end to the old idea of an energy trilemma, whereby the objectives of decarbonisation, affordability and security of supply are in tension with each other.
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Foresight Group has acquired a majority stake in the proposed 750MW MaresConnect interconnector between Great Britain and Ireland for an undisclosed sum. The subsea interconnector will stretch for 245km between Dublin in Ireland and Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire in Wales and is expected to begin operating in 2027.
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